Existing cannabis cultivators: come into compliance
I would like to applaud the Humboldt County Supervisors for their decision to begin drafting a large-scale medical marijuana land use ordinance that will comply with the new California state laws and the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board’s water quality order. Local control is critical for our future; we must develop land-use policies that reflect our values such as the protection of forests, families, fish and farmers.
By moving a local land-use ordinance forward, the county is taking the initial steps toward ensuring existing farmers are allowed to come into compliance with the new laws and become part of legitimate society. The first step in this process is to address “existing cultivators.” The goal should be to bring as many cultivators, including those cultivating on Timber Production Zone (TPZ) who are willing to take immediate action to ensure baseline environmental standards are met, into compliance — to be treated as responsible and legitimate business owners. After the county gets a handle on existing cultivation, it can then, begin to address, if, how and where it should allow any new cultivation areas.
EPIC does not support the further conversion of working forests for commercial agriculture, or residential development, because it threatens our vision of creating a well-connected, healthy and restored forest ecosystem. When addressing the Humboldt County Supervisors and California Cannabis Voice Humboldt (CCVH) EPIC recommended that an ordinance address existing cultivation, and remove language from the law/ordinance that would explicitly allow future cultivation on TPZ lands.
Existing Humboldt County TPZ landowners, who are cultivating, need to initiate the permitting process with the North Coast Water Board — the current deadline for enrollment is February 15, 2016. The new county regulations will require compliance with the Water Board and Department of Fish & Wildlife regulations — now is the time to get started. The state’s new laws require licenses from local jurisdictions.
We are entering a new era in our collective history. We need to work together to ensure systems are in place to stop further environmental damage, provide clear lines for what is and is not acceptable and create a safe-harbor for willing cultivators to come into compliance. I believe it is possible that Humboldt County can have both — protected and restored watersheds and well-regulated, salmon-safe cannabis farms — do you?
Natalynne DeLapp, Executive Director, EPIC